Earlier this week, Zamboanga city declared a state of calamity due to rice shortage amidst importation. Prices of rice in Zamboanga reached as high as P70 per kilo, leaving consumers especially the poor majority in a disadvantageous position.
Access to basic commodities for the poor Filipinos will be more difficult because of the skyrocketing inflation rate while there’s no significant increase in wages and opportunities being implemented by the government both for the marginalized people and the country’s middle class workers.
For more than two years in power, the Duterte regime and his minions in the Department of Agriculture headed by Secretary Emmanuel Pinol is either confused or entirely out of their minds as for how to deal such predicament that our country faces.
Pinol has earlier suggested exporting farmers in Papua New Guinea to plant rice as our farmlands are being converted to big business plantations of banana, pineapple, palm-oil and rubber. While the vast prime agricultural flatlands are being converted to Camella subdivisions no less than by the family corporation of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Senator Cynthia Villar.
Another solution proposed by Pinol is the lifting of the Quantitative Restriction (QR) on imported rice, suggesting that this will solve the rice crises. The lifting of the QR in a semi-feudal country like the Philippines dominated by rice cartels will not solve such a problem. The influx of imported rice will only result in a lesser buying price of locally produced rice, killing our local rice farmers.
Lower buying price among Filipino rice farmers does not necessarily translate to a lower price of well-milled rice in the market amidst importation since rice traders, cartels and bourgeois-compradors will hoard the supply to create an artificial shortage. They are implementing these cheap schemes since the Philippines became a member of the World Trade Organization.
Last weekend, I had the chance to meet an undersecretary in the Department of Agriculture, when I raised the issue on exporting farmers to Papua New Guinea, land and crop conversion, as well as importation he seems to be clueless.
When I asked him about his capacity and his views on such pressing issues in agriculture, he only responded like a true bureaucrat: write a position paper. There is evident bankruptcy in Duterte’s administration in handling the country’s basic staple-rice. Also, the poor decision making of the agriculture department reeks incompetence of Duterte’s officials in dealing food and agriculture in our country.
The Duterte administration is too busy killing people, killing farmers who defended their farmlands, killing Lumad who stood for their ancestral lands, and killing the vast poor majority through hunger.
Are we going to wait and see death?
Or are we willing to join the resistance?
Kumalampag Kontra Import, Kumalampag Kontra Kagutuman! Kalampagin ang Bangkaroteng Rehimen ni Duterte!